Yom Hazikaron in Australia

May 5, 2014 by  
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Jewish communities across the world have paid tribute to Israel’s fallen soldiers and victims of terror.


Brenda Segal reports from Melbourne:



In Mebourne, the Robert Blackwood Hall at Monash University was filled to capacity as over 800 community members stood in respect as Kaddish was recited for those who lost their lives. The candle lighting was a poignant memory of how war and terror has touched the lives of Jews around the world. There were many touching scenes that caused a catch in the throat from the lowering of the flag to the wailing of the siren.ZCV president, Sam Tatarka said that “we gather here tonight, blessed with the presence of those who have fought in each of Israel’s wars since independence in 1948, blessed with a strong representation of younger generations who are charged with carrying the torch of memory forward into the future, and blessed in the knowledge that the armed forces of Israel do indeed love those that stand behind them.”

Shmuel Ben-Shmuel Israel’s Ambassador to Australia spoke from the heart in Hebrew which was translated in English. He described how war left no family untouched.

“Yet, this day is even more important to the entire nation of Israel, more so than it is to the grieving families, as it allows everyone to maintain some sense of solidarity, for at least one day each year.

“We should remember (Israel’s fallen), for not only one day, one ceremony, one event each year, since a nation without a true sense of memory, loses its roots of the past, and its path for the future.

“I wish each and every one of us, the living, will demonstrate in our actions and commitment to Israel, that we are deserving of the huge sacrifice made by our fallen brethren and their families, so that their unspeakable bravery and loss was not it vain.”

It was a tribute to those who paid the ultimate price. As ZCV president Sam Tatarka said: “Yom Hazikaron is primarily about the past but in its culmination it is also about the future.

“With the last siren on Monday night Yom Ha’atzmaut will begin and remind us that the losses we mark on Yom Hazikaron bear meaning in the future of Am Yisrael, and with that future we hope and pray that true peace will see a line drawn under the roll call of the honoured dead and their supreme sacrifice once and for all so that the chronicles of Israel will speak of triumph and achievements in peace, science, medicine and the arts and will speak no longer of the loss and pain of terror and war.”

Sabina Baunin reports from Sydney:

Relatives, friends and those who share a connection gathered to commemorate Yom Hazikaron, a day of remembrance of the lives lost and the sacrifices made by those past and present to pursue an independent Israel. The night was opened as a personal day of grieving, a national day of remembrance and a form of education for the futures of those around us.

More than 600 people packed the NCJWA council rooms in Woollahra.

The ceremony, under the auspices of the Zionist Council of NSW,  featured emotive and inspiring speeches by various members of the community as well as musical performances which captured both the sense of loss and the power of emergence from adversity through the power of song.

Students from youth movements performed heartfelt acoustic songs that were both uplifting and reflections of the past.

The a Capella choir led by Rabbi Rachamim was a powerful rendition of the Soldier’s Prayer which tied together both traditional and army tunes to create a passionate transition of emotion that expressed the essence of many lifetimes within the brief moments of a song.

These powerful and inspiring songs stirred memories and emotions among the audience, serving to remind us of the real human impacts that emerge through military and political struggles.

Embassy of Israel spokesperson Dorit Hirscovici added further emotional insight by speaking of a culture’s existence marked by contrast from suffering to strength, and from strength to remembrance.

ZCNSW president Richard Balkin told J-Wire: “It was the most moving ceremony I can remember attending. T o listen to the way that 600 people with one voice sang Hatokvah said it all.”

The ceremony, coordinatedby Israeli Schlicha Ortal Dary truly captured a strong aspect of Jewish identity of how a people whose past and present is characterised by intense loss and deep struggle are left with a will to survive.

In Israel, President Shimon Peres spoke at the commemoration ceremony.

“On my way here I felt the lights settle over Jerusalem. The busy life of the city slowing in pace, and converging in on itself. 67 years ago the United Nations declared the establishment of a Jewish state. But it wasn’t a declaration that founded this wonderful country. It was founded upon the blood of its sons and daughters, upon the sweat of the pioneers and the vision of its prophets. Israel today is a strong country, a miracle in the eyes of the Jews, a wonder in the eyes of the world. We, the Israelis, are not like any other people. For a generation already the sadness does not release us, even for joy. Our joy is always incomplete. A cloud of sadness envelops us. It is hidden deeply but stares out of our eyes.


Shimon Peres

We accompanied our children when they came to the world, we were with them on their first day at kindergarten, we took them to class on their first day in first grade and we took them to enlist in the army, we walked beside them on their wedding day and to their first home. Suddenly lives were cut short and then the cloud does not disperse, it carries the image of the soldiers who fell in Israel’s battles. Even at the greatest celebrations we feel a stab in our heart: How won’t they be at the birth? Why won’t they hold hands on the way to school? How is it that they won’t be a part of raising the children? Why did all their friends grow up, studied, get married, start families – but my son, my daughter, my brother, my husband will remain forever as we saw them at the moment before parting. Each word is a will and testament left behind. To be as moral as the ten commandments. To be courageous and heroic. To be a constructive and enlightened society. To be a free and democratic state. To be a nation seeking peace. Many of them did not build a house. Did not have the opportunity to plant a tree. Did not fully taste love. They left you behind, the bereaved families, to cry for them. And they left us, friends, to feel pain but to remember and to remind. We will not minimize what we have achieved, a unique country with a spirit of strength. We will not let go of the memories of all that we have lost.

Writers who will write no more, poets, scientists, soldiers, farmers, carpenters and ironmongers. Wonderful people, dedicated citizens, original creators who will no longer experience life and our nation will not benefit from their contribution. We speak here in plurals, ‘we lost’, ‘we dreamt’, ‘we wanted’ but first and foremost dear families, it is your pain. The individual loss. The individual pain. The personal grief. We can only embrace, respect and remember. Knowing that we are a people without a choice. To fight or to die. It is because of them that we are.

We are mute in front of you. Before the heavy sense of bereavement. There are no words that can express your pain while we know that nothing in your life can be similar to before that hesitant knock at the door. What can we say before you? Be strong? You are strong. Can we comfort you? There is no comfort. We are silent but we know that without them we would not be standing here today. As a proud president I may say that without the bravery and courage of your children, your husbands and wives, your brothers and sisters, we would not have a country. We are a nation small in size but great in courage. I know that the longing tears you apart. And sometimes you ask what is left in your life when your loved one is taken from you? What you would give to hear their footsteps again, the routine phone call asking ‘how are you?’ and the ending of ‘look after yourself’. Left unanswered.

My sisters and brothers, as one who was involved in the building of the state, part of its pain and its achievements I ask, despite the pain, be proud of this wonderful creation called the State of Israel. Of the warriors and builders who created the country which is a wonder to the world. Of this state which is a runway to a greater future for the next generation. Of the IDF, our beloved army. We still live by the sword but seek peace with all our hears. The battle is not over, we have not reached our goals.

From my advanced years I am convinced that our spirits have never broken. To our neighbors we offer a true partnership and a new life, where trees bearing fruit will replace arrows inflicting agony. I am sure that we will all live to see those days. The State of Israel will remember its loved ones, the best of its daughters and sons, the fighters of Israel from across Israeli society; Jews and non-Jews, Druze, Bedouins, Christians and Circassians. Bold in spirit and pure in heart, who fell for our defense and our independence. The nation will remember them with love and gratitude so that we are appropriately prepared to celebrate our Independence Day, with a clear recognition of the weight of the price.

We cherish the State of Israel with the same intensity as the immeasurable sacrifice which you carry with tears and sacrifice. God bless and remember the fallen of Israel’s battles who are etched in the hearts of all of Israel from generation to generation.”



2 Responses to “Yom Hazikaron in Australia”
  1. ben gershon says:

    the commemoration in Canberra.was held last Thursday it was very well done and meaningful

    But the wrong day .if an Aussi tried to shift Anzac Day they would be howled down .why Israeli embassy can get away with it is beyond me


  2. The choir at Sydney’s YOM HAZIKARON was the wonderful Central Synagogue Choir, conducted by the talented Natan Kuchar with the outstanding Chazzan Yehuda Niasoff.

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